We all have experienced influence in our life. Whether you realize it or want to admit it, people or experiences have influenced who you have become. Influence is a funny thing. Once you receive influence’s touch on your life, there is no undoing it. Almost like a chunk of Play-Dough, once it receives some pressure it no longer has the same shape.
We can recall an experience or person who influenced us. Influence can be subtle, like that person who always shows up and gives their best. Somehow they influence you to try harder and forgo our excuses. In contrast, influence can be obvious, like an authority figure who sits you down, has a candid conversation about your decisions and explains the consequences.
In the fall of 2017, I enrolled in the Montgomery County Leadership Academy. As the new Executive Director of the Montgomery County / Crawfordsville Chamber of Commerce, I realized I needed a deeper understanding of my community if I was going to succeed. The commitment to the Leadership Academy wasn’t overly demanding and the academic rigor wasn’t particularly strenuous. However, the opportunity to experience my community 12 consecutive Thursday afternoons and learn some practical skills along the way was well worth the investment.
One Leadership Academy class in particular will always be woven in the fabric of my memories. Wabash College professor Tobey Herzog, Ph.D., led a discussion on proper business communications. Dr. Herzog went through some of the most common pitfalls like misspellings and inaccurate information. He explained the effects these pitfalls can have and how they can lead to disaster. Some comical examples were shared from his experience that reinforced his point.
Then what Dr. Herzog explained next captivated me. The point was made how we are constantly communicating to others in everything we do or don’t do. From the body language we display to the clothes we wear, we are always communicating a message beyond our words to everyone around us. Astounding! To think you are constantly receiving information from others and vice versa.
This changed my outlook on things at work, home, church or even the golf course. Dr. Herzog influenced me to think twice about my posture, demeanor and word use. The polarizing thing about influence is I cannot go back to the way I was before this class. Like the chunk of Play-Dough, I had the pressure of realty applied to my consciousness and I cannot go back to the original state of mind.
The power of influence. Think about it. What influence are you making on those around you? Makes you want to think twice about your actions or rhetoric and even evaluate them to ensure they aren’t toxic to others.
Rick Hernandez is the Executive Director of the Crawfordsville / Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce. His column appears on Tuesdays in The Paper of Montgomery County.